Meat Industry Ireland (MII) has said that its member companies’ legal proceedings against the Beef Plan Movement for protests in recent weeks continue to be suspended – but the meat processor representative group refused to rule out its members resuming legal action.

Speaking on the Today with Miriam O’Callaghan show on RTE Radio 1 this morning, Monday, August 26, director of MII Cormac Healy expressed his disappointment with farmer protests resuming outside some factories in recent days.

Healy said that he believes there is “no valid reason” for protests to continue, noting that a “lot of progress” had been made with talks between MII, farmer representative groups and Government agencies.

“In terms of entering into those negotiations, some of them, two weeks ago, those talks were brokered by the minister and we gave an undertaking – or the individual processing companies that had initiated legal proceedings – gave an undertaking to suspend those to allow for those talks to take place, which they did at that point.

How things progress from here we’ll have to see. I mean, clearly we see protests again taking place. Companies need to protect themselves and their businesses. They need to ensure that they can function and they were brought to a halt.

Healy, when asked if he could rule out legal action, said that first off it was not something he could say as legal proceedings were begun by individual companies and not MII itself.

“The route for any of this situation is not in the courts. We don’t want to see that; we have engaged constructively in the talks and tried to make progress where progress was achievable – but equally companies will have to take their own advice in terms of how things progress at this point in time, so where they need to seek recourse for protection.”

Continuing, he accepted that legal action is not going to calm tensions between processors and farmers – but highlighted that “companies at that point when they were initiated were closed down – workers were temporarily being laid off; customers were not being supplied; and that’s the last resort at which companies felt that they had to progress”.

Those have been suspended and there has been no re-initiation of those while talks went ahead. And there should be no fear of recommencement of legal action if companies are allowed to process and undertake their normal business.

“They have suspended legal action at this point in time,” Healy said, adding that this would continue to be the case as long as companies can function.